February 28, 2022
By Alaina Uricheck ’24
Susquehanna’s annual Break Through event included a panel that helped students with a skill that is not in the Central Curriculum but is essential to their futures: how to fail. Jennifer McGonigle ’95, Craig Housenick ’98, and Natasia Martin ’19 walked students through their journeys from graduation to where they are now and gave advice for how to handle setbacks along the way.
Housenick graduated from SU with a theatre degree, but he did not end up using his degree in the way he imagined. After college, Housenick ended up in the intelligence community before venturing into theatre performance and lighting, eventually joining Jimmy Kimmel Live as a lighting designer.
“There is nothing I regret, it just taught me what the next thing I wanted was. The narrative that you only get one shot is not true – you can change paths halfway through and no one has ever ruined their careers by making an honest mistake at work. It is not a do-or-die situation,” Housenick said. “You are going to learn something about yourself at every job you have, but do not sacrifice yourself for the machine.”
Martin graduated from SU with a degree in neuroscience and began her journey as a teacher. She is now certified in project management and works in diversity, equity and inclusion while helping critical staff needs in the building performance lab of the CUNY Institute for Urban Systems.
“My career has forced me to break out of the mold and explore different skill sets and different aspects of who I am,” Martin said. “The skills I acquired while obtaining my degree are helping me and I see them with a different perspective.”
McGonigle graduated from SU with a degree in biology and spent some time in the lab before realizing her gregariousness did not suit her chosen career. She has recently “retired” in order to run a musical instrument string store, Indie Strings, and works part time at a comic book store. In answer to the question “What would she do differently?” she said “I would utilize the resources at Susquehanna differently. I didn’t have a good idea of how to set myself up for success.”
The panelists also offered some life advice to SU students, urging them to “learn a greater perspective and give yourself a sense of mission and try to get your job to fit into it,” Housenick said.
“Explore your passions and interests and take time to do what you love because it is fun and create balance. And continue doing that fun interest once you graduate, life should not just be work,” Martin said. “You get one life, and you need to prioritize what matters most. Make those moments count.”